For anyone who’s known me for more than a day, you are probably aware that “Mean Girls” sits in the top five of my favorite movies of all time. (If you’re curious, “Clueless” reigns at No. 1 always and forever.) So there’s no question that I celebrate “Mean Girls Day” every Oct. 3. This year, I want to give a shoutout to a beloved character who simply wants to keep things in harmony – Gretchen Wieners. Though she sometimes lacks self-awareness and has the tendency to “crack,” Gretchen has the necessary tenacity and well-intentioned heart to be a successful public relations professional.
She remains “in the know.”
Gretchen – and her big hair – proved to everyone time and time again that she’s up to date on everyone’s business. However, she doesn’t publicly share sensitive information to her peers, which means she’s a supportive and trusted ally who can promise discretion. As PR professionals, we must insert ourselves into the inner workings of the businesses we advise. We don’t have to disclose everything we know, but by knowing everything, we can make the most informed decisions on approaching a situation and developing thoughtful messaging. Additionally, if everyone in a team is equally informed, they won’t be blindsided if stakeholders and media ask questions. An informed PR professional can control a situation, drive the narrative and prepare teams with consistent responses for any situation, whether it’s a crisis, personnel announcement or a special event.
She keeps her fellow “bees” in check.
Along with her ability to keep things confidential, Gretchen is also an honest adviser to her peers. She’ll be the first to tell you if you’re breaking the “rules of feminism” and explain why it’s inappropriate to make out with your first cousin. Though it may involve an uncomfortable conversation, it’s our job as trusted PR advisers to warn leadership if something is, or will eventually be, problematic. We have to look at situations three steps ahead to ensure your business’s reputation remains positive. If we see things steering left, we must be honest and straightforward with the final decision-makers. Several brands have taken heat from empty apologies, racist-leaning advertising campaigns and a slew of other preventable mishaps because they didn’t have a Gretchen Wieners on their PR team
She’s always cheering on your side.
Gretchen is the supportive cheerleader every business needs. She’s the type of person who sees the best in everyone, always lends an ear and celebrates when good things happen to others. Similarly, strong PR professionals must be cheerleaders for their company and clients. PR professionals are even stronger if they believe in your mission and will do everything they can to help you succeed. Find a PR manager whose values and attitude align with your company. That person will go above and beyond to advocate for you at every opportunity, just like Gretchen would do for anyone in her hive.
We can all be a little bit like Gretchen Wieners. She exudes passion and strives for everyone in her circle to be happy, even when she is holding onto someone’s secret or pushing others to do the right thing. Her trust, honesty and support are all qualities that would make her a stellar PR professional (ideally for Toaster Strudel) when she graduates North Shore High School.